'Nuclear Iran less threat than chance of binational state'

Alon Pinkas said to members of the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association.

Pinkas 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Pinkas 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“A nuclear Iran is not the end of Israel. A binational state is the end of Israel,” political commentator and former consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas told members of the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv prior to the IBCA general meeting, Pinkas initially addressed outgoing British Ambassador Tom Phillips, to whom he said that in an ambassador’s average three-to-four year in Israel there are two wars, two elections and one peace process.
Phillips arrived in Israel in 2006 in time for the war in Lebanon and was still here for Operation Cast Lead. He just missed out on the election in 2006 bus was here for the election in 2009.
“One thing we owe you is a peace process,” said Pinkas.
It is the absence of a peace process that has contributed to Israel’s isolation in the world today, said Pinkas. Israel is fast reaching a point in which realities that were suppressed, ignored or dismissed since 1967 have to be acknowledged and decisions made, he added.
“We’ve been living in the Six Day War for too long,” he said.
“We’re living in a situation of protracted temporariness. We know we can’t stay in the West Bank.”
Israel already knows that the contours of any future agreement will follow the parameters set by former US president Bill Clinton during his last days in office, said Pinkas, who issued dire warnings about further delays.
“We’re reaching a point where the impasse is such that it serves only the Palestinians. The two-state formula is becoming untenable, nonviable and non-sustainable.”
He suggested that unless the peace process gets under way immediately the Palestinians will opt for one binational state in which they will demand the right to vote. If Israel were to incorporate the Palestinians and allow them to vote, this would imperil Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, and in Pinkas’s view, would pose a much greater threat than a nuclear Iran.
No one is taking Israel seriously any more, said Pinkas. No one is listening to the Israeli narrative.
“The world sees Israel as the last colonialists and occupiers of Palestine,” he said.
For many years Israel was able to deflect pressures by arguing that the Palestinians could not be trusted and that the Arab world does not recognize Israel and is out to get Israel, observed Pinkas.
In this respect Israel was always able to rely on the US due to the sound, solid, very real and unparalleled relationship that it had developed with America, “but we’ve become too arrogant about it. We’ve come to take it for granted.”
Changes in America could impact on that relationship, he noted, but made it clear that US President Barack Obama has not deviated from his predecessors in his commitment to Israel’s security.
The difference was that presidents Clinton and George W.
Bush were more demonstrative.
“Israelis has been spoiled by 16 years of Clinton and Bush saying how much they love them.
Obama is not so sentimental,” Pinkas said. “Being unsentimental does not mean being unsupportive.”
Aware of negative perceptions of Obama among the Israeli public, Pinkas noted that American policy in the Middle East did not ultimately benefit Israel.
“Neither Clinton nor Bush did anything tangible to strengthen Israel,” he said. “Obama is no different.”
There is, in Pinkas’s opinion, a major difference in how Israel and America see the Middle East.
For some 30 years they had identical interests, but this is no longer the case.
This may be because there is no longer a Soviet Union or because there are American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan or because America wants to mend relations with the Muslim world, Pinkas opined.